When writing a blog post, one of the first questions that springs to mind is: ‘how long should it be?’ Too short, and you might fail to achieve the impact you were hoping for. Too long, and the reader will get bored and click away before they’ve even made it halfway down the page.
But is word count the be-all-and-end-all of blog writing, or are the words themselves more important?
Quality over quantity
Some of the most experienced and well-known content marketers in the world agree that most of the time, longer blogs are better, but only if the content is of high quality.
That’s the key: if you’re writing 2000 words just for the sake of it, you might as well quit while you’re ahead. If you can only manage 900 quality words, then 900 should be your word limit.
At the same time, if you can only manage 200 words on a topic, you might want to reassess if you’re enough of an expert on your blog’s chosen subject. After all, a true expert should technically be able to write an entire book on their chosen subject, if they had the time or the inclination.
Of course, there are always exceptions to this rule. Seth Godin, the author of one of the world’s most widely-read marketing blogs, rarely exceeds 300 words per article. He’s a clear exception to the ‘longer is better’ rule, proving that if the content is good, word count shouldn’t be a concern.
The writing process
When writing your blog post, try to avoid obsessively checking the word count after every few seconds. It’s tempting to fixate on the number, but it’s only going to distract you from the content itself. Instead, let the words flow and see where it takes you, since you can always go back for a more serious edit later.
The layout of your article is just as important as word count. No one likes reading huge chunks of text with no line breaks, so try to break up the article with subheadings and keep your paragraphs short.
When the paragraphs are short and snappy, you want to keep reading.
Don’t you agree?
When word count matters
While quality content should always be your primary concern, there are a few specific situations where you might want to pay closer attention to your word count.
Cornerstone SEO content is a concept all blog owners should educate themselves on. Outside of your home page and about sections, your cornerstone blog article is one of the most important pages on your website if you want to boost your SEO and maximise your chances of conversion.
The cornerstone post should be an in-depth article on your specific subject of expertise, helping to showcase your skills without outrightly boasting to your audience about how great you are. Again, you should aim for quality over quantity, but the in-depth nature of cornerstone content means anything under 1000 words probably isn’t going to cut it.
Another great way to maximise conversions is to get your article shared in publications relevant to your industry. If your blog post shares an interesting opinion or piece of advice, a journalist might want to republish it as an opinion piece on their site. In this case, most publications will ask for pieces around 600-900 words in length.
While word count is undoubtedly a factor in any piece of writing, the actual content of those words is far more critical. If you have something inspiring, motivating and engaging to write about, how many words it takes to tell becomes far less important than how you say it.